Most people only talk about their body and mind because that’s all that they can handle. They forget about the spirit. However, it’s actually the spirit that is the most important thing because it comes before everything else. The mind comes from the spirit and the body comes from the mind.

Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind,or lower mind, makes up a huge part of our total mind. What that means, is that emotions and desires almost totally govern most people’s lives. Before you develop self-awareness, you’re helpless and at the mercy of your subconscious mind.

In order to move out of your lower mind, you have to become aware that your reactive tendencies are not you. They are just your instincts and your habitual thoughts and habitual feelings. That’s the first step on the path to self awareness.

Slowing Down

Without self-awareness, you’re like a car that is going 100 miles per hour in one particular direction and even though that direction might be a cliff, you just cannot do anything about it.

That’s why there are so many yoga techniques – such as asanas and pranayama – to help you to develop your awareness so you can slow down the car, change gear and steer your vehicle in a different direction and ultimately change the course of your life.

Changing Gear

Spiritual growth means becoming aware of the subconscious mind and being able to put the mind into a different gear. Awareness means examining yourself. It means knowing what motivates you and whether your motivations are matching up with your conscious decisions.

When you are able to examine and answer these questions with clarity, you have begun to awaken the higher faculty within you that is called consciousness or awareness. Consciousness is based on the pure intellect. That means the intellect that is uncorrupted by the lower mind.

Consciousness and Human Intellect

Consciousness is what sets humans apart from animals. Human intellect encompasses the faculty of reasoning and freedom of choice.

Reason and choice work together so that when you are faced with a dilemma, you can – with awareness – use your ability to reason and then exercise choice to make a conscious decision.

If you are using awareness, reasoning and conscious choice, the decision will be rooted in the higher mind.

If you are using the emotions to make the choice and you use your intellect to justify your emotions, your lower mind is controlling you.

The higher mind will give you better results.

Struggle between Lower and Higher Mind

In the beginning there is always a big struggle between the high mind and the low mind. Your heart and emotions say something, your intellect says something else and then the two go into a big battle.

But eventually the opposing parts of yourself will thin out as you become more and more aware and as you become stronger. You will gradually shed your doubts, have more courage to stand by the truth and lose the fear that you will be let down.

Superconscious Mind

The 2nd stage of the development of our mind would be from the conscious to the superconscious, from being discriminative to being intuitive.

You will notice that as you journey along the spiritual path, your intuitive faculty will naturally become stronger and stronger. When you develop your faculty of intuition, your sense of struggle will lessen and your sense of effortless knowing will increase. You will no longer be a mass of contradictions and you will be able to just ride through, glide through, slide through life.

There will be an easiness to things because when your intuition is working well, you will have plenty of prana.


Prana is a sustaining energy but most of the time we lose prana because of our inner conflicts – we waste it all running around, doing a hundred different things – most of them unnecessary. But when the intuition comes into play, you will be able to live in harmony with yourself and others. Conflicts will fade away.

You’ll be able to use your intuition to embrace others, to know them. That happens once you know yourself. You will only need to look at someone, turn your gaze inward and then you will be able to see them from inside of you as well as from outside of you. At that time they are not separate from you. You will start to be able to become one with all.

This article is an excerpt from the transcript of the CD recording, “Spiritual Progress,” one of seven in a CD boxset, available for sale at the Sivananda Yoga Farm. These are recordings of Swami Sitaramananda’s satsangs at the ashram. Bring home the ashram’s teachings and keep tuning in, contemplate and become wise!

© Swami Sitaramananda 2018 No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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